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Category:    Home > Reviews > Special Interest > Cooking > The French Chef With Julia Child (Cooking)

The French Chef With Julia Child (Cooking)


Picture: C+†††† Sound: C†††† Extras: C†††† Episodes: B+



Julia Child is one of the great icons of television.She was ahead of her time in several ways.For one, she was one of public televisionís first big stars.For another, she was doing cooking on TV when that was just a novelty, but that she did French food and was a hit was another.Starting in 1962, The French Chef was a hit, the kind of series that would have never shown up in the big three networks. Furthermore, this was a time before cable, satellite, DVD, tape and especially syndicated TV.


WGBH has issued a nice 3-DVD set split along the lines of a three-course meal, as follows, one per disc:


Starters & Side Dishes


1)     The Potato Show

2)     You Own French Onion Dip

3)     Bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise

4)     The Spinach Twins

5)     Salade Nicoise

6)     French Fries


Main Courses


7)     Boeuf Bourguignon

8)     To Roast A Chicken

9)     The Lobster Show

10) To Stuff A Cabbage

11) Tripes a la Mode

12) The Whole Fish Story


Baking, Desserts & Other Classics


13) Queen Of Sheba Cake

14) Cheese & Wine Party

15) Apple Dessert

16) Mousse Au Chocolat

17) The Good Loaf

18) The Omelette Show



Just reading those will make most people hungry, but for those who think they can get the exact same thing from current cooking channels should think again.Child is exceptionally skilled and though many have come along since and have been successful in the media in this field, no one has ever topped her for knowledge, skill and then there is the irrepressible personality.


Spoofed all over the place from the original Saturday Night Live to The Uncle Floyd Show (reviewed elsewhere on this site) to enough references to deserve its own book, Childís half-hour marathon cooking is a wonder to behold.Remember, she was on public TV, where there are no commercials.Therefore, once they began, it was about 29 minutes of non-stop cooking.The resulting bloopers are like nothing you have ever seen before or will again, but what is great about them is that they add layers to the show and how she handles them is pure Julia.


Unlike Emeril, she does not have a big kitchen.Despite its chaos, she is still cleaner than Jamie Oliver, who simply forgets to wash his hands.The result of all this is a brilliant combination that is what great television is all about.Child became an international star and culinary legend, but her TV legend deserves serious reviving.They can go digital High Definition, bring on surround sound, have the latest in kitchen gadgetry and look for the next big cooking star, but beyond what she cooked, Childís work will never be duplicated.Even if you do not like to cook or like French cuisine, The French Chef is a highly entertaining DVD set that you cannot stop watching once you start.


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on early black and white, then full color videotape for the remaining seasons.They look good for their age and those wanting to see good examples of this kind of analog NTSC video from the time will want to catch these transfers in particular.WGBH has done a good job of storing the masters and these transfers are decent.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also good for its age, but note that the later color shows often had a lower than usual volume, so be careful when you adjust your volume for playback.They were recorded this way.Extras include text on Child and a way to print up these recipes.A few other Child DVD are out there and we can only hope WGBH will issue more of them, because they are worth rediscovering.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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